History of Sailing

Here I post articles about sailing through the ages. From when man first started to master the seas, right up to the present day. Anything I find interesting or relevant to the development of sailing over the years.

If like me you celebrate the journey of sailing, from the simple rafts of the ancient world, through the iconic Viking longships, to the technologically advanced yachts of the modern era then this will be for you.

Sailing has been instrumental in exploration, trade, warfare, and recreational activities that have shaped our world for thousands of years.

So here I delve into the fascinating stories and transformative events in the history of sailing. Here, you'll find articles detailing the evolution of ship designs, the maritime tales that have seeped into our culture and consciousness, the advancements in navigation techniques that literally led us to new horizons, and the brave sailors who risked their lives to conquer the sea.

Whether you're a seasoned sailor or a landlubber, the "History of Sailing" invites you to set sail on a journey into the past, exploring the inextricable link between mankind and the sea. So, cast off the lines and hoist the mainsail, there's a world of history to discover.

Latest History Posts:

  • What does rough sailing ahead mean?
  • Why do Sailing Boats have Two Wheels?
    Majestic sailing boats, with their billowing sails, are a sight to behold. But why do they have two wheels? It is for their intricate mechanics and design. These boats sail through the sea and two wheels make them easier to maneuver and control. These two wheels are called helms or steering wheels and are usually… Read more: Why do Sailing Boats have Two Wheels?
  • Why are Sails Black in Sydney to Hobart
    Black sails are often used in Sydney to Hobart races due to their UV-resistant properties. Carbon or Kevlar laminates are UV-stable, which reduces wear over the course of a long race, and these materials are typically black. If you read on I'll give far more information on black sails and why they're so popular. Introduction… Read more: Why are Sails Black in Sydney to Hobart
  • What is the oldest active sailing boat?
    The oldest active sailing boat is believed to be the "Star of India." The Star of India is a fully rigged iron-hulled ship that was built in 1863. Originally known as the Euterpe, it was used for transporting emigrants to New Zealand and then served as a cargo ship in various trades, including the jute… Read more: What is the oldest active sailing boat?
  • How did Sailing Ships Repair their Masts at Sea?
    Introduction Sailing ships had to battle many difficulties on the seas, like repairing their masts, which was no easy task. To do this, they'd make a 'jury mast' with spare wood from the ship. Or they'd fix a pole across the deck and hoist the broken mast for repair. Some captains even had pre-made masts… Read more: How did Sailing Ships Repair their Masts at Sea?
  • Why are triangular sails better
    Why are triangular sails better? Read this to discover the undeniable advantages of triangular sails and explore their efficiency, giving optimal performance at sea. The Benefits of Triangular Sails Triangular sails have some great advantages over other sail shapes. They provide improved speed, better manoeuvrability, and control. Benefits include: What else? Triangular sails will keep… Read more: Why are triangular sails better
  • How did sailing ships survive storms
    Challenges faced by sailing ships during storms Discover the remarkable resilience of old sailing ships as they confronted treacherous storms, here I unveil the tactics that helped them survive and prevail. Sailing ships in days gone by had to deal with the perils of storms at sea, without any of the modern day aids sailors… Read more: How did sailing ships survive storms
  • How fast were old sailing ships?
    Key Takeaway: Introduction Sailing Ships: How Fast Were They? Sailing ships have always been an essential means of transportation and trade across the seas. Delving into the history of these ships brings light to their speed capabilities. When it comes to measuring the speed of these ships, the knot is the unit of measure. The… Read more: How fast were old sailing ships?
  • How did Sailing Ships get Fresh Water?
    How did sailing ships get fresh water? Through rainwater collection, shore resupply, condensation, and distillation. Water was severely rationed on long voyages. Read all about it here. Key Takeaway: Introduction Sailing ship survival requires fresh water. The accessibility of water in oceans or seas was limited and dangerous due to saltwater. Therefore, sailors had to… Read more: How did Sailing Ships get Fresh Water?
  • Why are Sails Black
    Key Takeaway: Reasons why yachts have black sails As an avid sailor, I’ve always been curious about why some yachts have black sails. After researching the topic, I found that there are multiple reasons why black is a popular color choice for yacht sails. Yacht sails are made from carbon fibers which provide better performance Yacht sail… Read more: Why are Sails Black
  • How did sailing ships dock
    In the 1600s, sailing ships docked by dropping anchor near the shore and using smaller boats to ferry goods and passengers to land. They also utilized piers and wharves for direct docking, employing ropes, pulleys, and manpower for manoeuvring and securing the ships. Back in the day, these magnificent tall ships had unique docking techniques.… Read more: How did sailing ships dock
  • What does knock down mean in sailing?
    The TLDR answer to "What does knock down mean in sailing" it is when the boat is literally knocked on its side, so it is lying at 90 degrees, with the mast touching the water. I've been sailing for many years and this is still one of the worst things that's ever happened to me… Read more: What does knock down mean in sailing?
  • How did sailing ships leave port?
    For many years now I've been fascinated about the history of sailing through the ages so I get a kick out of writing articles like this one on, how did sailing ships leave port? If you like the history of ships too, then you should also check out article on "Why are sails white?" The… Read more: How did sailing ships leave port?
  • Why are sails white?
    Sails are often white, or off-white, mainly because throughout history the natural fibres used to make them (cotton, flax or hemp) are white, off white or beige. When I started sailing as a teenager I was keen to learn as much as I could as fast as I could. I don't want to give my… Read more: Why are sails white?


  • John Sixthsmith

    I'm a freelance writer and avid sailor who loves to share my passion for the sea with others. I've written articles for various sailing magazines and websites, covering topics such as sailing destinations, boat maintenance, navigational tips, and marine wildlife. I went on a short sailing trip whilst on holiday as a child and was instantly hooked. I've been sailing ever since. Although I've done a fair amount of lake sailing in my time, my real passion is the ocean. I hope you enjoy reading this blog about sailing as much as I've enjoyed writing about it.

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